Next Generation High-temperature Optical Fibers

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Exploratory Topics
Livermore, California
Project Term:
09/18/2019 - 12/31/2022

Critical Need:

This topic would support downhole tools to enable enhanced geothermal systems to better develop novel, low-cost sensor technologies that can help mitigate risks and lower costs for deep, extremely hot enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) by better characterizing rock formations and fluid enthalpy at depth. EGS technology has the potential to improve the economic cost-competitiveness of geothermal energy, while also lessening geographic restrictions of geothermal as an energy sources. The U.S. possesses a massive strategic asset in its existing supply of geothermal energy, and deep extremely hot EGS represent a potential zero-carbon resource capable of delivering hundreds of gigawatts of baseload electricity with a very small land footprint per unit power. Additionally, developing downhole sensor technologies leverages existing domestic oil and gas industry’s sophisticated subsurface techniques and sources of human capital, offering the potential to improve and innovate on technologies that could also be utilized elsewhere in the aerospace, automotive, nuclear, and even space exploration fields.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Develop a novel process for applying metallic coatings to optical fibers that will allow the fabrication of distributed optical sensors for high-temperature geothermal wells and explore quantum sensing techniques to dramatically increase sensitivities. This new optical technology will fill an important technology gap to enable distributed sensing in high-temperature enhanced geothermal system wells and help optimize production.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Isik Kizilyalli
Project Contact:
Dr. Michael Messerly
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


University of Colorado, Boulder

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